We’ve all seen Edgar Degas’ ballet dancers, Claude Monet’s waterlilies and Camille Pissarro’s leafy suburbia paintings on biscuit tins, jigsaws and tea-towels etc, the work of the Impressionists is still very much present and part of the art seen today.
I would say that the majority of us feel relatively confident and comfortable when looking at Impressionists paintings. They are generally easy on the eye and often lovely objects that depict recognisable scenes in a figurative manner.
Within the context of Modern Art, the more traditionally minded, consider the Impressionists the last group to produce proper art, they didn’t go in for ‘conceptual nonsense’ and those abstract squiggles that came later, but produced paintings that are clear, beautiful and refreshingly inoffensive.
Actually, that’s not quite right, at least that’s not what people thought at the time. The Impressionists were the most radical and rebellious group of artists in the entire history of art. They underwent personal hardship and professional ridicule in their dogged pursuit of their artistic vision.
Ripped up the rulebook and stuck two fingers up at the establishment before setting about instigating the global revolution we now call Modern Art.
Many 20th century art movements, such as 1990’s Britart have been billed as subversive and anarchic, but in truth were far from it. The respectable looking 19th-century impressionist painters on the other hand were the original outlaws, they really were subversive and anarchic.